Still relatively undiscovered, Detroit emcee and producer Nametag and Nameless are respectively amongst the city’s best kept secrets upholding its reputation for a no nonsense approach to Hip Hop. Where competition has faltered, the duo’s strong affiliations such as House Shoes and a tireless work ethic has made for a slow but steady ascent through the underground’s ranks. For Namesake is their formal debut as they hope to branch out even further while carrying the torch for Motor City legends to come before them.
For Namesake finds Nametag and Nameless joining forces to issue a wake up call that is hard, soulful and thought-provoking with the help of an assorted cast from their town’s scene. Placing a spin on the formula of producer/emcee combos such as Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Gang Starr and the more recent Little Brother, the group forges their own path largely distinct from predecessors. Taking on the role of a statesman, “Hype Break” promotes talent over gimmicks as he raps, “The reason the game’s oversaturated, quite obvious / A bunch of rappers who aren’t artists, only hobbyists.”
Precautionary tales, “How It Get” details how tough bravado can lead to violence and the humorous “Notchos” advises against troublesome women with the clever couplet, “Never been the type that’ll wife a skeezer / These days they digital freaks, BET’s Cita.” Though Nametag is fully capable of handling the rapping on his own, guests include his blood cousin Black Milk on the aggressive “Oxymoron” and Guilty Simpson on the aptly titled “Raw-Dirty-Filth,” both fitting well without outshining the lead.
Nametag and Nameless push themselves ahead of the pack, adding another win to Detroit’s long running hot streak with For Namesake. Despite being slightly derivative at points, the album covers a well-rounded variety of emotion from the infectious “Feelin’ Good + Feelin’ Great” to “The Teacher” where Nametag comes to grips with the passing of mother along with his father’s drug addiction issues. As a unit, they have raised the bar with gritty production and clever wordplay that should take them from under the radar towards greater consideration, whether together or as separate solo acts.